By Ilana DeBare
There has been so much deeply horrific news this week — the Boston bombings, the spineless Senate, the Texas fertilizer fire. It might seem hard to care about two dead goslings.
But these goslings were in our backyard, so to speak, swimming in the bay a few feet offshore of San Francisco’s Crissy Field on Wednesday.
And they died a completely gratuitous death in the jaws of several unleashed dogs — a graphic illustration of why we need stricter regulation of dogs in the Presidio and other parts of Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
San Francisco resident Mikiye Nakanishi was walking her own chihuahua and saw the killings unfold. Two adult Canada Geese were leading six goslings into the bay from the inlet near the Crissy Field lagoon. The adults were swimming easily out, and the youngsters were working hard to get past the bay’s tiny waves.
A crowd of teenage French tourists were gathered nearby, watching the cute bird family. Other passersby stopped to see what was drawing everyone’s attention. Nakanishi herself stopped to snap some photos. Suddenly an off-leash dog came running at the birds. Its owner called it off.
“Then another dog came running and grabbed one,” Nakanishi recounted. “A second dog grabbed another one. A third dog came and pushed them all out. The geese had no place to go. People were surrounding them. The dog owners were saying, ‘Oh, they’ re not going to hurt them.’ ”
No, the dogs did not hurt the goslings.
They killed them.
Nakanishi was horrified, both by the sudden killings and by the irresponsibility of the dogs’ owners, who fled the scene before park personnel could arrive.
The pointless death of the two young geese highlights something we have been saying for a long time — there need to be stricter controls on unleashed dogs in the GGNRA.
Most U.S. national parks allow NO unleashed dogs at all, and allow leashed dogs only on paved surfaces like parking lots. Yet dogs roam free throughout almost all of the GGNRA, despite the fact that it is home to more endangered species than Yosemite, Sequoia, Death Valley and Kings Canyon National Parks combined.
We understand that dog owners cherish the ability to let their pets run free. But dogs are not the only animals whose welfare is at stake — we also need to consider the safety and well-being of wild creatures like those goslings.
We continue to urge the National Park Service to designate specific off-leash areas and enclose them. In tandem with that, the NPS needs to crack down on irresponsible owners who let their dogs run wild in inappropriate areas and harass wildlife.
Two goslings are just a small loss in a world that has been heavy with big losses this week.
But they were an unnecessary loss, and are indicative of the many birds and other animals that are regularly — and inhumanely — harassed in the GGNRA due its broken policies and lack of enforcement.
Make your voice heard! The National Park Service is currently doing a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement about changes to the GGNRA dog management rules. Contact Howard Levitt, Director of Communications and Partnerships for the GGNRA, and tell him we need stricter dog management rules. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415 561-4730.